Texas isn’t short of great camping spots. Whether you’re looking for an idyllic spot to park your RV or a secluded place to pitch your tent, Texas has got you covered with its multitude of national and state parks.
You’ll find stunning landscapes all over the state where you can rest for the night and wake up to glowing rivers, deserts mountains, and magical seashores. There are ancient caverns to explore, mountains to hike, spring-fed spools to bathe in, and some awesome rivers to raft and fish in.
In this article, we take a look at the best places to camp in Texas from the banks of the Rio Grande River in Big Bend National Park to the shores of Padre Island, so you pick the best camping spot in Texas for you.
During peak times, such as school holidays, it’s best to reserve your campsite in advance, which can do by following this link.
Big Bend National Park is often referred to as a hiker’s paradise and it’s easy to see why. The park is located in the southwest of the US, not far from the border with Mexico, and it stretches across more than 800,000 acres of land. There are hundreds of spectacular desert and mountain paths for you to choose from, and walking along the banks of the Rio Grande with towering mountains in the background is something you’re unlikely to forget (alternatively, you can choose to hike in the mountains and gaze down at the river lying thousands of feet below).
It’s also a hotspot for wildlife, so nature lovers are in for a real treat – keep your eyes open for many reptiles, birds, mammals, and fish you might come across on your wanders.
Setting up camp in the Big Bend National Park is a great way to make a base from which to explore its many treasures. The park service runs three front-country campsites within the park itself, which have access to drinking water and toilets. You can take your pick from the Chisos Basin Campground, located at the foot of a mountain basin, the Rio Grande Village Campground, with tranquil river vibes, or the Cottonwood Campground, situated in a cool shaded patch of woodland. If you’re on four wheels, then you’ll be please to know that there’s also a camping area specifically for RVs (with full hook-ups) operated by Forever Resorts.
If getting off the beaten track is more your style, and you’re willing to give up the luxury of campsite facilities, then backcountry camping might be more up your street. While is it permitted in the park, and there are some awesome designated spots, make sure you pick up a permit first.
Reservations are an absolute must (do NOT expect to rock up last minute and blag yourself a spot) and things get particularly busy during the months of November-April, so you’ll need to book months in advance. The campsites are currently limiting group sizes to 8 people due to COVID-19 but check the website for the latest details.
Situated in Central Texas is one of the state’s most striking geographical features, Enchanted Rock. The ‘rock’ is technically more of a mountain, and its pink granite structure reaches a peak at 1,825 ft, offering spectacular hill country views. There are plenty of trails to keep hiker’s entertained, and rock climbers can even get the chance to get up close and personal with this mystical rock – just make sure you sign a waiver and stick to the rules of the area (see here for a map of climbing spots and details of the rules and regulations).
If you really want to unwind and get in touch with nature while you’re there, there are even stargazing trips you can organize with park rangers.
There are plenty of camping options surrounding the base of the pink mountain. There are 35 campsites with access to water that will cost you around 18 bucks a night (check out this page to see where exactly the sites are located). Plus, there are various ‘primitive’ campsites located right in the thick of the countryside for $14/night, but make sure you’re able to walk the 1-3 miles over tricky terrain to reach them!
There’s also a separate campsite for larger groups (up to 50 people) that costs $100/night (no water is provided and it’s a 0.75-mile walk from the parking area). And remember, you’ll also have to pay a park fee of $8 each day of your trip.
Address: 16710 Ranch Rd 965, Fredericksburg, Texas
It’s easy to home in on mountain and desert landscapes when you think about camping trips in Texas, but let’s not forget the incredible shoreline it has to offer too. The Padre Island National Seashore is located on North Padre Island, which is proudly the largest undeveloped barrier island on the entire planet.
The park is just a stone’s throw away from the Texan coastline and the park encompasses more than 130,000 acres of protected primitive landscapes, featuring sand dunes, tidal flats, and prairies. These environments are crucial for various marine ecosystems and, if you’re there at the right time of year (mid-June to August), you might be lucky enough to witness Kemp’s ridley sea turtle hatchlings making their first teenie steps towards the shore.
What’s more, the Laguna Madre is one of the saltiest (hypersaline) lagoons on earth, and there are tonnes of water-based activities you can take part in to experience it to the full, including fishing, kayaking, and windsurfing (it’s world-famous for its windsurfing spots!).
Hands-down the best way to fully appreciated this magical place is to stick around for a few days and take your time enjoying the wildlife and trying out various activities. There are campsites open all year round, and they operate on a strictly first-come first-serve basis – which is great for any last-minute holiday goers.
Take your pick from the developed Malaquite Campground, which has toilet and shower facilities, or the Bird Island Basin Campground, which has only chemical toilets. Alternatively, for a more rustic experience, you pitch up in one of the totally primitive camping spots right on the beach (but you’ll still need to pick up a free permit as you pass the kiosk into the park). There aren’t any RV hook-ups within the park, although there is an RV dump station and a place for campers to top up their water supplies.
Canyons are an iconic feature of America’s landscape, and Texas is home to the second-largest canyon in the country, the Palo Duro Canyon – often referred to as the Grand Canyon of Texas. The canyon really is a marvel of nature, and it stretches for just under 200 km and is a whopping 32 km wide at places.
The Palo Duro Canyon State Park itself is located less than half an hour’s drive from Amarillo, and it costs just $8 to enter. Once inside, there are heaps of ways to explore the canyon – take your pick from a hike, mountain bike tour, horse ride, or a super scenic car trip. The dramatic rock towers, clearly visible layers, and distinct mesa make the canyon impressive to behold, so it’s not surprising that this is one of the most-visited parks in the US.
It’s also a very camping-friendly park, and you can take your pick from various campsites that are hooked up to water and electricity supplies ($26/night), some slightly cheaper ones that only provide water ($16/night), and primitive campsites with zero supplies ($12/night)… but make sure you’re up for the half a mile hike to get there from the car park.
Oh, and there are even horse sites ($12/night) with full water access in case you’re visiting with a four-legged friend. Although most of the campsites can be booked online, the primitive campsite uses a first-come-first-serve basis, so we recommend giving them a quick call in advance to see how busy they are.
Address: 11450 State Hwy Park Road 5, Canyon, Texas
The Colorado Bend State Park is a luscious state park situated in the Hill Country region of Texas. The Colorado Bend river offers ample fishing and paddling opportunities (it’s awesome for bass fishing and you don’t even need a license, winning), and if you feel like relaxing while you’re out in the wilderness, then why not take a dip in the Spicewood Springs and really rejuvenate yourself as you soak up the surrounding scenery.
Plus, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, then we definitely recommend booking on to one of the guided wild cave tours – experiencing the case in their natural state while you scramble around illuminated your way with nothing but a head torch is something you’re unlikely to forget. The river, caves, springs… and even sinkholes, can all be explored on foot too, and there are loads of awesome hiking routes in the area – the Gorman Falls Trail is one of the most popular, so we definitely recommend checking it out if you have time.
In terms of camping, be warned that the park takes a no-frills approach to its campsites. While this means that there are no RV hook-ups to be found anywhere, there’s something nice about going back to basics when you’re in the wilderness. There are primitive sites you can drive to ($15/night), walk to (you’ll have to carry your luggage roughly 50 yards; $13/night), or hike to (you’ll have to carry your gear for around a mile; $10/night – the latter two of which have no water or toilets). For larger groups, there are group camping sites available with water and composting toilets available.
Address: 2236 Park Hill Drive, Bend, Texas
Right on the cusp of the Texas-Louisiana border (on the Texas side) you’ll find Caddo Lake State Park, an enchanting area of outstanding natural beauty thanks to its piny trees flanking its glassy bodies of water. The park is located to the west of Lake Caddo, which is one of just a few natural lakes in Texas.
Such a cool lake has long attracted anglers from near and far, and there are over 70 different kinds of fish for you to have a go at, including catfish, crappie, bass, and pickerel (and again, no license is needed, yay). Canoeing and kayaking are also popular activities, and there are well-mapped-out paddle routes that you can explore – just make sure that you’ve brushed up on your alligator safety tips first (and only swim in the designated areas)!
In terms of camping, there’s quite a mix for you to choose from – the 46 campsites include ones with full hook-ups (8 sites; $20/night), tent sites with electricity (18 sites; $15/night), tent sites with water (28 sites; $10/night) – all have restrooms nearby and all have a few camping sites that are wheelchair-friendly too. Plus, if you fancy upgrading, there are screened shelters ($25/night) with picnic tables and electricity inside and even rustic cabins ($115/night) to rent.
Address: 245 Park Rd 2, Karnack, Texas
And finally, last, but by no means least, on our list of the best camping spots in Texas is the Inks Lake State Park, located roughly 50 miles from Austin. The lake is great for year-round water fun, and it draws hundreds of anglers a year hoping to try their luck at catfish, sunfish, and bass (and… there’s no need for a license).
As well as the usual swimmers and paddlers, you’ll also find scuba divers checking out what lies below. It’s a great lake for waterskiing too, but don’t worry – there are large no-wake zones too to keep things calm. Plus, there are tonnes of trails that’ll lead you around the rocky outcrops in the surrounding areas, offering glimpses of the calm waters down below.
It’s home to tones of campsites (almost 200 to be precise), some with hook-ups, some with electricity, some with water, and some primitive, and prices range from $11 to $23/night.
Address: 3630 Park Road 4 W, Burnet, Texas
So, there you have it, the top places to camp in Texas. As we’ve seen, there really is a range of landscapes to choose from – sandy shorelines, majestic lakes, luscious forests, and even pink mountains… Texas really does have it all!
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!